Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Google Carta

Very useful gadget. GoogleDocs, not Magna Carta. So it seemed, judging by the description of it. Working in eight libraries located across the town with five office computers, two home machines, a couple of memory sticks and three email addresses, sometimes I am totally lost among all the documents created, copied, emailed, edited, corrected many times and even with dates added to them it is easy to lose track. Example? The index to classification schedules. Not just one but as many as the number of systems used in our library cluster. These documents are living organisms, evolving all the time. They are growing as well as being corrected and improved almost every time we add a new book to the stock. Having just one version available from everywhere and to all of the library staff would be an absolutely great innovation. And this is just one of many possibilities. Surveys, all sorts of forms, information leaflets. Nearly everything that we might need access to at any time - all this available in just one or two clicks on the computer keyboard from any place on earth! This should also stop computer services sending me warnings of nearly exhausted quota on my university email account, clogged by all the messages sent to myself with constantly revised documents. Also the computers will be happier having less fat files on their hard drives and the memory stick might fit more holiday shots on it to share with colleagues at work (at coffee time of course) instead of a long, long list of Word and Excel files.

Perhaps my Google Documents will be plain and not very impressive, but they are suppose to be useful and easy to find. Magna Carta, as fine as it is, with all four of its existing copies, has to stay in the museums. Google documents will travel across Cambridge and around the world!

But will they? The first experience with creating new Google Doc was very positive. The text appeared on the screen, I shared it with a colleague, received a corrected version. Then we tried to chat while looking at the same document and ... nothing. The messages were accepted, appeared on sender boxes but never reached the addressee. That was the first problem. Next I tried to upload the Excel document from my desktop. The upload screen confirmed that uploading was completed but there was only part of the document to be seen on the screen. A message above it appeared: Working... (highlighted in yellow) and another one at the bottom of the half of my document ...Loading next lines. It was in the morning. In the afternoon on the same day it was still Working... (above the document) and Loading... (under it). With not much hope I opened GoogleDocs at midnight and hurray!!!! The whole text was there! It took "just" a little more that 12 hours. Next day I checked the site on computers in two different locations. My index to classification was there. Success. But only a partial one. My colleague did not received it till the end of the next day. Disappointed, she decided to wait until I came back from my holidays. Two weeks! Will we find it then?
Another problem, with the Word document this time, just one page but formatted in two columns in a landscape position, appeared in GoogleDocs as one quarter of the page. I was able to see it all after zooming out but what I saw was not the document as I had it on my desktop but just half of it (one column) and with completely different formatting. Changing the formatting was not easy and not all that was possible in Word seemed to be available in GoogleDocs (e.g. no text bordering, no columns and probably more which I have not explored yet).

After all those unpleasant surprises I am much less enthusiastic about GoogleDocs than when I started to write this blog. I must be doing something wrong. Need more time to find out. In the meantime - back to more traditional methods, at least they work at the moment quite well.

P.S. The tag to this blog may change in future. I do not lose hope!

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